Leamington bar owner: ‘I’ve changed my name to Batman in council battle’

Owner Kevin Murphy is campaigning to keep the Batman statue up above the front window of the bar and to keep a number of other alterations he has made to the front of the building. NNL-170419-085254009
Owner Kevin Murphy is campaigning to keep the Batman statue up above the front window of the bar and to keep a number of other alterations he has made to the front of the building. NNL-170419-085254009
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Leamington pub owner Kevin Murphy has assumed a new identity in his fight to display statues of superheroes outside his business.

In response to an enforcement notice from Warwick District Council asking him to remove various additions and alterations from the front of the Grade II-listed Murphy’s Bar in Regent Street, Mr Murphy has appealed against the action and has paid a £35 fee to have his name changed to Bruce Wayne Batman.

He says he is not only sticking up for himself but for other businesses in the road - which is in a conservation area - who are also under pressure from the authority to change the appearance of their frontages.

Mr Murphy said: “It looks like they are trying to say to me ‘We’ll show you who is in charge’.

“So I’m saying to the council if they are going to be pathetic then I’m going to be pathetic too.

“But really, the name change is just a bit of fun.

“I was ‘flying’ around Asda the other day and I had people saying to me ‘alright Batman’.

“The world could do with more things for people to smile about right now.”

Mr Murphy’s campaign against the enforcement notice, which orders him to remove a statue of his new namesake from above the bar’s front window, started in April and he said more than 1,400 people have now signed the petition to support him.

He said that the Batman statue along with the Spiderman and Superman statues he has now also bought to go outside the bar add character to the area and bring in footfall for both his business and others in the road.

He said: “People bring their children along to have a photo with the statues and nobody has said to me ‘Take these down, they offend me’.

“Among the legal mumbo jumbo there is a line which says that any ‘substantial harm to the asset must be weighed against the public benefits’.

“Drawing customers in helps me to raise £4,000 for charities each year through various events so it could be said that by me being busy the public is benefitting that way.

“For me the council are just pushing outdated rules and regulations that have no place in today’s market.”

Murphy’s is set to host a four-day fundraising event called Murph Fest 2 to support the Warwick Lions and the Helping Hands charity.

The mini music festival starts today (Friday) at 6pm and will feature various bands and artists, who are playing for free, including Bradley Hunt of X Factor fame.

Mr Murphy said he is planning to have all of his superhero statues above the bar’s front window during the event.

A council spokesman has said: “Alterations and additions to Grade II-listed buildings before receiving permission is unlawful and we work closely with businesses in our town centre to avoid having to take any formal action.

“It is unfortunate that ‘Batman’ has been installed on the building together with other works carried out, and we are in conversation with the owner to seek its removal as soon as possible so that we retain the character and appearance of this attractive area.

“It is perhaps not the most appropriate location for a super hero.”